"After ten years working in hospitality I thought I knew a thing or two about making and drinking cocktails - nope," says Alexander Stone.
Nursing a hangover, Ed+bK Bar reporter Alexander Stone compiled this report on the second round of the Diageo World Class Cocktail Championship at Mr and Mrs Gs Bar, Eagle Street last Monday, where the goal was to find Queensland and Western Australia’s best bartenders.
If a ticket to Ibiza for the world final isn’t enough to inspire you, how about $100,000 to start up your own bar?
That’s just a few steps away for bartenders contenders at the Diageo World Class Cocktail Championship competition.
World Class is, as the name would suggest, a world-wide competition that sees bartenders pitting their cocktail and their skills against thousands of others. Last year’s winner, Australian Tim Philips, has spent his year as world champ being flown all over the world to show everyone else how it’s done.
I’m going to be making a concerted effort to check out the winner’s new bar as I will be the first to admit that the next morning I realised that I might have enjoyed all their cocktails a bit too much.
First cocktail was by Perryn Collier of Alfred & Constance, Fortitude Valley in the Ketel One East meets West category. The influences of Perryn’s cocktail were explained using props of an old map and a model pirate ship which caught my attention straight away. The drink went down a treat.
The second drink was made by Rinna Kato of Bacchus, South Bank in the Don Julio Reposado tequila, tropical cocktail category. Rinna explained to us that punch should have five elements as she made us a drink with one of the most interesting cocktail making devices I've seen. I'm not really sure how to describe it, although my friend on the evening said it was something straight out of the movie ‘The Fifth Element’. It seems punch has come a long way from tin pineapple, lemonade and the nearest bottle of alcohol.
Andrew Bennett from The Classroom in Western Australia was the winner of the Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve Scotch Whisky Celebration Cocktail category. If this cocktail was supposed to be inspired by your best times of ultimate celebration, Andrew must have had some very good times. He crafted the base of the drink in an awesome looking bronze cocktail shaker and finished it off with a bottle of 23 karat gold flake infused champagne which he proceeded to open in the traditional French way with a saber. This delectable drink was certainly a show stopper.
The last drink of the night was by Nick Royds from The Walrus Club in the Bundaberg Master Distillers' Collection Dark Oak rum Gentleman's cocktail category. Embracing the true Queensland spirit he said he tried to create the ultimate gentleman’s drink for enjoying around a roaring fire. A miniature blow torch to set alight a small piece of wood really helped set the mood and get the olfactory senses going. I’ve always had a soft spot for Bundy and fire as most people who know me will tell you, so this one went down a treat for me.
Nick says while the name of his drink sounds frightening, it is really more theatrical than threatening. Mixing Bundaberg Dark Oak Rum, Banana Rooibos Syrup, Oak & Orange Bitters and black truffle and cocoa oil, the concoction is then poured into coffee pots, set alight to slightly warm through and then served in a beautiful crystal glass. Guests are then given their own sachet of oil-absorbing Tapioca Maltodextrin powder on the side, which they are encouraged to swirl into the drink until dissolved.
The four winners from this round plus eight others from the Sydney and Melbourne rounds will be showcasing their drinks for the final at the Noosa International Food & Wine Festival on May 17. Good luck to them all. I'm very envious of all the poor judges who have to try and decide between these amazing creations.
Bottom line: Sip slowly
Best tip: Stay tuned for updates on the winner’s new bar opening
Disclaimer: Ed+bK reporter’s was a guest at this event.